By SHERRY DIGMON
Every year, the Escambia Academy cheerleaders participate in the Universal Cheerleader Association (UCA) camp. It’s a summertime tradition, attending a camp with numerous other squads, competing, learning new cheers and routines, and making new friendships. But not this year.
UCA canceled overnight camps this year and encouraged squads to hold a home cheer camp. And that’s what Escambia Academy cheerleaders did.
Cheer sponsor Mandi Carter said this was the first year for this group of junior varsity girls to go to camp.
“They were upset that they were unable to travel somewhere for camp,” Mandi said. “However, UCA does an excellent job making it the same kind of camp experience for the girls. Having a Home Camp this year was actually ideal for our squad since we are so small. The three seniors probably would have rather finished their cheer career like normal, with a typical camp, but they did awesome.”
The camp started on July 6. Squad members had one-on-one instruction time with Meg Davis, UCA instructor.
On day two, cheerleaders learned a cheer and a Rally Routine for their showcase which was to be live-streamed on EA Facebook page the next day.
“They gave 100 percent as usual because our program expects that from them,” Mandi said. “They were pushed like normal, even though there wasn’t an actual competition at the end of Home Camp.”
On the last day of camp, the girls tried out for UCA All-American. They were judged on their individual cheer, sideline, band dance and rally routine. Both squads earned a trophy and blue ribbons in each of those categories.
“They will perform their game day routine at an AISA competition in the fall. There, they will compete against other AISA schools like they would have during a typical summer camp,” Mandi said. “One of the positive things about having a Home Camp is that both teams got a lot of one-on-one coaching from the UCA staff member.”
The following cheerleaders were named UCA All-American: Lillian Bonner, Gabrielle (Gabby) Williams, Tava Johnson, Ana Chesley Robinson, Mary Ruth Dortch, and Kayleigh Jay.
Kayleigh Jay, Tava Johnson, Ana Chesley Robinson and Mary Ruth Dortch have been invited to perform at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Nov. 21-25, 2020.
Lilian Bonner and Gabby Williams have been invited to perform with UCA in London’s New Year’s Day Parade, Dec. 26, 2020 through Jan. 2, 2021.
“All in all, we are very happy with our Home Camp experience and look forward to the competition in the fall,” Mandi said. “As a coach, I could not be more proud of both the JV and varsity squads.”